On Wednesday we had a parade in downtown Seattle to celebrate the Super Bowl 48 Champion Seahawks.
Now, we've had some big events in Seattle, like the parade for the Supersonics in 1979, as well as the usual concerts and presidential rallies. But nothing has ever approached this order of magnitude. This was one of those astronauts-driving-down-Canyon-of-Heroes-in-New-York-City parades! In the end, more than 700,000 fans converged on downtown Seattle to pay tribute to the Hawks.
I wasn't one of those fans, as I needed to go to work (plus I'm not that big on crowds anyway). But my wife Brenda, whose office was only a block or so away from the parade route, braved the freezing temperatures to witness the insanity first-hand -- sending me occasional photos and messages. She said it was so crowded that it was nearly impossible to get close to the parade route. In the photo below, you can see parade route at the traffic light in the distance (circled with an arrow):
She was able to get closer, but the parade still hadn't started.
Eventually she went back to her office, where she could see some of the parade between buildings. In the photo below, you can see one of the amphibious Ducks carrying Seahawks (red circle). You can also see the people standing on rooftops.
Brenda said a lot of parents had brought their kids to the parade -- but many of them seemed unprepared for the frigid weather and mayhem. We had actually wrestled with the decision about whether to pull one or both of our boys out of school for the event, but there were a few reasons why we didn't.
First, according to the school district, kids wouldn't be excused from being absent. Here's part of the email we received on Feb 3 (highlighting added):
Seattle Public Schools will not close or dismiss school early because of the Seahawks parade on Wednesday. Parents who wish to take their students out of school can, but per state regulation, it will be treated as an unexcused absence. While we support the team, academics must come first and it's important not to lose a day in the classroom.
The other reason was my older son told us he couldn't miss a rehearsal for an upcoming concert.
But that didn't stop a lot of other kids. According to the a Seattle Times report, 27 percent of the school district's 51,000 students were reported absent (as well as 565 [19%] of the 3,000 teachers!). Maybe it had something to do with the Mayor and others asking for a little leniency. After all, this was practically a city holiday.
Or maybe it had something to do with Seattle schools clarifying their policies:
UPDATE: Under state regulation, Principals have the discretion to decide if students who miss school tomorrow for the parade will be considered unexcused or excused.
Around 3:00 p.m., I started looking at some of the parade coverage online -- and I couldn't believe what I saw (from the Seattle Seahawks Twitter feed):
It looks like some kind of football fan zombie movie!
Later the Seahawks posted a gallery of 150 photos. Check out this one of Marshawn Lynch (Beast Mode) riding on the front of the Duck, handing out Skittles:
Here's another one that shows the size of the crowd:
Regardless of how you feel about sports and their overall importance, you have to admire the way the Seahawks brought the community together during the 2013 season. And while a Super Bowl championship is an astounding feat, I'm left wondering if bringing those 700,000-plus people out of their homes, workplaces, and schools for the biggest party of the year is another equally-impressive accomplishment.
I also wanted to give props to the biggest Seahawk Fan I know, my brother-in-law Brian Suiter. Brian is the kind of fan who watches the Hawks every season, whether they're winning or not. He's the kind of fan you buy a Seahawks toaster as gift (that burns the Seahawk logo into the bread!). It was Brian who first told me that the Seahawks had a chance of going all the way. He told me to watch them on an upcoming Monday Night Football game, and I did (the December 2 game against the New Orleans Saints). What I saw in that game -- especially in Russell Wilson's quarterbacking performance -- reminded me of something that bordered on sport and art, skill and creativity. So thanks, Brian, for being there for the team -- and also helping me jump on the bandwagon when it was time. You are the original 12th Man!
Finally, congratulations to the Seahawks team, the fans, and everyone who made this season (and celebration) possible.
As always, Twitter was a great place to get updates. Here are a few of my favorite tweets from Wednesday -- virtual postcards of the parade and celebration: